You can’t help but wonder what the Minister of Sport, Hon Grant Robertson, knows about his portfolio. On the 27 June 2021 he wrote to double Olympic Champion, Alan Thompson and said this:

More broadly, as part of ensuring the safety and well being across all levels of play, active recreation and sport system, the independent Sport and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service (SRCMS), run by Immediation New Zealand, was launched in February this year.

So, what does that tell us? It tells us that Grant Robertson’s expectation is that the new service will ensure “the safety and well being across all levels of play, active recreation and sport”. I would love to hear from Robertson exactly how that is going to work. Because, you see, on the SRCMS website there is an explanation of what Raelene Castle’s new organisation cannot do. Here is a summarized version of the things they can and cannot handle:

Each team member is completely impartial and does not take sides in the dispute.

Does not provide any legal opinion in connection with the dispute

Is not there to take a detailed account or sworn witness statement about your complaint.

Is not there to assess or comment on the strength or weakness of a complaint or the evidence in support of it.

The team will provide you with general information about the facilitated resolution services and avenues available to you under the Service. 

So, there we have the Minister of Sport ensuring safety and well being across all levels of sport” and the organisation he believes will provide that safety saying they won’t take sides, they won’t provide a legal opinion and they won’t listen to your complaint or witnesses. Well, how does Robertson expect his new service to safeguard anyone? It really is the most incredible bureaucratic BS I have ever heard. The gulf between what Robertson expects and what the SRCMS says it can deliver is impossibly wide.   

My guess is there will be some who will use the new service and Robertson and Castle will claim it as a victory for justice and fair play.

But would Podmore be alive if she had taken her case to the SRCMS. No of course not. She desperately needed someone to take her side, to listen to her complaint and to provide a legal opinion. She would have got none of that from the SRCMS. Her desperation would have got worse, not better.

Would Cycling New Zealand have still cheated at the Olympic Games? Yes of course it would. Without anyone taking the side of fair play, without any legal opinion and without hearing the complaint there was no sanction to stop cycling’s dishonesty.

Would Alan Thompson have received a fair hearing? Well, we know the answer to that. Thompson did try the sport’s internal mechanisms for justice and was shafted by the system. In my opinion, Castle dispenses justice only to her own.

Would I have received a fair hearing in my Tribunal case? We know the answer to that as well. The Privacy Commissioner had no power to sanction and so Swimming New Zealand dismissed his recommendations out of hand. Would the SRCMS have been any different. Not a snowball’s chance in hell.

Would Novaxx Djokovic have received a relevant hearing before the SRCMS, had his case happened in New Zealand? No need to answer that. It is a pretty sad and pathetic joke that highlights the stupidity of Robertson’s letter.

And so, I hope we have proven a point. If you are unlucky enough to have a dispute with a national sporting organization, consult the normal avenues of the law. Do what I did and what Djokovic has done. Consult those who will take a side, who will listen to a complaint, who will hear from witnesses and who will provide a legal opinion.    

Grant Robertson is living in cloud cuckoo land if he expects the SRCMS will make any difference to justice in sport. His organisation is mere window-dressing. Bought and paid for to benefit Raelene Castle. If ever there was a case of public money being spent for the purpose of private gain the SRCMS comes close.

We have laws to help provide for our general safety. Use them.

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